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About three percent of Florida's bridges considered structurally deficient

According to the American Road and Transportation Builder's Association, Florida ranks forty-fifth in the country for percentage of structurally deficient bridges.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Structural engineer Ron Woods said when he saw the jarring images from the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh Friday, he wasn't shocked by what happened.

“I guess I'm a little bit surprised that they're not more of them because of the the types of bridges that are out there, the fact that not all of them can get remediated due to funds, limitations, maintenance limitations," he said.

"There are a variety of different factors and variables that play into that. So, it's very difficult to keep up with these. So, it's a little bit surprising that we don't have more of them," Woods said.

According to the American Road and Transportation Builder’s Association, as of March of 2021, one in three bridges in the United States needed to be repaired or replaced.

In Florida, about three percent of its bridges are considered structurally deficient, meaning one of its key elements is in poor condition. That puts Florida forty-fifth in the nation for percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The higher the number, the better the rank. Georgia ranks forty-sixth.

Florida overall has 12,592 bridges, according to the Association. 

The Association also said state leaders have identified needed repairs on 1,003 bridges in Florida, totaling about $2.7 billion.

“The farther you go north, the more deterioration you typically find in bridges because of the environment and the fact that if you have bridges that ice over during the winter, they are using chemical ice reduction, whether it's salt or some other chemical, to cut the ice down," Woods said.

Duval has 796 bridges, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration as of Sept. 2021. Sixty-three percent are in good condition, 34 percent are in fair condition and two percent are in poor condition.

“It's a danger to the public when you drive on a bridge and you don't know that it's being maintained or carefully looked at on a routine basis. The state and the counties have an obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public," Woods said.

"Bridge transportation is one of those areas that they have to be very careful about," he said.

Both Florida and Georgia Department of Transportations perform at least one bridge inspection every two years on all bridges. If they find deficiencies, they monitor those bridges more often.

“They both have active bridge maintenance, or bridge management programs, and so, they're to be commended for that. It's a daunting task to keep track of all this bridges," Woods said.

You’ve probably driven over some of these, the top traveled structurally deficient bridges on the First Coast, according to the American Road and Transportation Builder’s Association.

In St. Johns County, US-1 over Oyster Creek. In Duval, I-95 Northbound over Nassau River. In Nassau, County Road 200A over Lofton Creek and in Clay, County Road 220 over Little Black Creek.